Updated throughout with details: The 2005 conversation in which he said, of women, “when you’re a star…you can do anything, grab them by the pussy. You can do anything” was “locker room talk and its one of those things. I will knock the hell out of ISIS,” Donald Trump told Anderson Cooper at tonight’s second presidential debate.
Trump insisted that what he was describing was not sexual assault. But then, Trump also said he never did the things he boasted he’d done, in the conversation with then Access Hollywood host Billy Bush.
Here is how it played out:
Cooper: We received a lot of questions online, Mr Trump about the tape that was released on Friday. You called what you said ‘locker room banter’. You described kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?
Trump: No I didn’t say that at all…This was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I apologized to my family. I apologized to the American people. I’m not proud of it. But this is locker room talk. You know when we have a world where you have ISIS chopping off heads, and, frankly, drowning people in steel cages, wars and horrible, horrible sights all over… This is like medieval times…Can you imagine the people that are frankly doing so well against us with ISIS and they look at our country and they see what’s going on. I’m very embarrassed by it. I hate it. But it’s locker room talk and its one of those things. I will knock the hell out of ISIS. We’re going to defeat ISIS…I will take care of ISIS and we will get on to much more important things.
Cooper: Are you saying that what you said on that bus 11 years ago, that you did not actually kiss women without consent or grope women without consent?
Trump: I have great respect for women. Nobody has more respect for women than I do.
Cooper: So for the record, you’re saying you never did that.
Trump: Frankly you hear these things, they are said…I have great respect for women…
Cooper: Have you ever done those things?
Trump: I have tremendous respect for women and they have tremendous respect for me. No, I have not. And I will tell you I’m going to make our country safe, we’re going to have borders for our country which we don’t have now…We’re going to make America safe again, and we’re going to make America wealthy again.”
Tonight’s debate opened with a Trump stunt. When spouses did their traditional walk out on stage, handshake, President Bill Clinton walked out alone, but Melania Trump was joined by Trump’s children Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric. Also seated in the front of the hall, on the Team Trump side, were four women who had flanked Donald Trump 90 minutes earlier during another surprise stunt. The four women, who all have alleged they were victimized by Hillary Clinton’s husband and by the Dem candidate, made statements, while Trump refused to take questions.
Juanita Broaddrick, for instance, is quoted as having said at the pop-up press conference, “Mr. Trump may have said some bad words but Bill Clinton raped me and Hillary Clinton threatened me. I don’t think there is any comparison,” Politico reported. Trump refused to answer questions put to him by media at that photo op, including, one asking him if his star power allows him to grab women without their consent.
Trump’s hastily thrown together news conference was seen as a stab at moving the spotlight away from Friday’s release of the audio/video tape of Trump and Bush’s conversation while on a bus heading to the set of a soap opera, for an Access Hollywood segment about Trump doing a cameo on the show.
This afternoon, NBC suspended Bush, who was named one of the hosts of NBC News’ Today show just this past May.